Jul 19

Adding the sea

So when the client for the desk likes racing cars and the Titanic, what do you do? You inlay a racetrack with stringing and banding and you add in a piece of the north Atlantic using resin 😀 
Step one: that router base will not let you get an even depth across that wide a hole, so unscrew it (mangling a screw in the process and having to use a left-hand screw removal bit to dig it out) and add on a much wider shop-made wooden base:

I’m willing to bet nobody else is dumb enough to use sapele for something like this (especially since plywood would be a better, flatter choice). 

Step two: strap on the respirator, the goggles, the ear defenders and make sure you’re good and uncomfortable from all the PPE even before you turn on the dust collector and the router and grit your teeth against the entire process and cut down about 8mm into walnut over a good third of the surface area of the desk, staying within the lines. Which takes a good hour to do because (a) this tool terrifies me and (b) everything is sooooooo slow in case it bites, digs in and pulls the bit through several weeks of work in the blink of an eye. Or, y’know, through me.

This still needs another last pass to even the sea bed out, by which time I think it’ll be 9mm down into a 21/22mm thick slab so it should still be stable, especially when the resin goes in. 

Before adding the resin though, I want to seal the bed and the sides with grain filler — not the wood putty type stuff, the much much finer stuff used to seal the pores (usually in oak) to stop finishes (or in this case resin) wicking through the pores in the wood and looking bad. Once that’s done, I’m going to add reflective film on the bottom of the sea bed. I tested this a while ago, if you do this and have a light source overhead, it lightens up the resin really nicely:

I may need to clean up the shed a bit before that though, every time I do any routing the shed looks like a small bomb went off in it and working there gets less pleasant.

Mind you, it can’t be all that bad, it passed the customer’s testing with flying colours…

Jul 19

Finish line

Big parcel arrived in the post…

Mind you, it felt light, but still, I think this might be overpacking 😀

Inlay binding. Interesting to watch it being made if you ever get the chance. It’s supposed to be a purely decorative element, and it costs so much less than the shipping that I got a few different bands, but I’m only interested in one…

And the point of this pattern isn’t normal decoration…

Cut to width, knife in lines, chisel and #722 router plane down to depth (the depth being the thickness of the binding), and chisel it just a hair too wide, so add a piece of stringing to close the gap…

Let the glue set and trim to the surface…

And there’s the finish line for the racetrack 😀

I think that’s the last of the stringing for this shelf as well. Next up, route out the central portion, seal the grain with grain filler, stick down reflective film, and pour blue resin…

Meanwhile the DIY is done and the fridge is secure.

And people wonder why MDF gets such a bad rap. Not the best choice in the world for supporting the weight of a full fridge freezer, especially when that’s likely to mean lots of vibration as you open and close the door a lot every day for years, possible liquid leaks, the vibration from the compressor and so on. Surface tops, substrates, I can kindof see the idea there if you need cheap flat surfaces, but this is just a stupid application. I’m surprised it lasted this long. I’ll have to make something better from a proper wood once I get through with the desk. 

Jul 19

DIY intermission

Funny thing about DIY, it gets all the Tim-the-Toolman-Taylor jokes and all the Daddy-Pig jokes, but at the core it’s a repeat of the Arts-and-Crafts movement of the late 1800s and early 1900s which led to things like this:

From the Met Museum : https://www.metmuseum.org/

I mean, it’s not to everyone’s tastes (I don’t like it much personally) but you can’t really argue it’s incompetent or that it’s inferior because it wasn’t just an aesthetic, it was a philosophy – one of using more traditional craftsmanship rather than industrial processes and moving away from the previous mass produced furniture (sorry Henry, but Ford didn’t invent mass production, High Wycombe got there at least six decades earlier and they might not have been the first) which people felt wasn’t as good as human-made furniture (as in, wasn’t as nice to look at, wasn’t built well, and so on). 
If that sounds a bit familiar, well, have a sip of your artisanal coffee and suspend laughing at hipsters for long enough to admit that actually, compared to the burned toast flavoured sludge we used to have for coffee in the 90s and the starbucks of today, coffee made by someone who knows what they’re doing is actually a lot better – and there in a nutshell is the core of the arts and crafts movement (and the DIY movement and the hipsters and probably a few other movements over the centuries since industrialisation). 

Anyway. DIY in this case is a lot less airy and a bit more safety-oriented; the mass-produced MDF kitchen our fridge is in is quite old and after the first decade or so MDF doesn’t really hold up so well it turns out. Or at least old MDF doesn’t, the process may have changed since then so the material is now more robust, but this stuff  is tearing apart and right now there’s a six-foot tall fridge freezer sitting on a shelf where one corner has torn out of its fastening and the whole arrangement has taken on a distinct tilt that I’m not at all in favour of. So an emergency support is getting shoved in until it can be fixed properly.

This is when it’s handy to have some CLS 2x4s around. A bit of planing, some measuring and cutting and a pair of edge joints later…

BTW, you’ll notice one F-clamp has a black and red plastic handle and the other has a purple one – that’s a Rob Cosman trick, it’s hockey stick tape to give more purchase on the handle. Gotta say, it works a treat and I’ll be getting more and doing it to all of the clamp handles. 

Glue will be cured by tomorrow and then I’ll scribe the sides of those uprights against the faces of the feet and then I’ll route out a cavity to set the overall height. Might have to trim or plane the edges of the uprights slightly for that, not sure. We’ll see. 

Really don’t like that tool, but it’s the best fit for this job. Have a new cutter in it as well, the one I intended for the sea in Calum’s desk, a Radian Tools three-flute cutter. Either it’ll be brilliant or it’ll shatter when it hits a knot, but either way I’d rather find out here than on the walnut desk…

Once I’ve routed the cavity to the right depth, I’ll glue and screw the feet to the uprights. Might shape them a little first just so it’s not completely ugly. Then drive them in below the shelf to support it and the fridge until we can get a more permanent fix. 

Also, new toys!

Lidl were selling radio clocks (as in, synced to the german VLF atomic clock transmitter so you never have to adjust the time even if the batteries run out and you don’t replace them for a while) so out with the older larger clock and in with the newer quieter one with the built-in temperature and humidity sensor. Atomic-level accurate clocks with digital thermometers and humidity sensors sold for a tenner as a loss leader to sell you vegetables and own-brand staples. Mass production does have some advantages…

And a new vice. I keep putting off sharpening my saws because they’re a pain to clamp in that small pine stick with the saw kerf that gets clamped into the bench’s face vice, and then when it is clamped properly the teeth are down at bench level and it hurts my back to be bent over the work like that but I need to see what I’m doing to do it and it’s fiddly. So I’ve left the western saws I have on the wall for over a year now and they’re not bad tools and I keep wanting to learn to use them right but I keep coming back to the japanese saws because the western ones aren’t sharp. So, a dedicated saw sharpening vice, found on ebay for €25 including P&P:

It’ll get bolted to a small plank, then the plank goes in the face vice on the bench, so the top of the vice will be much closer to my face and I can see what I’m doing. Fingers crossed it’ll work.

That’s it fully open btw; just enough for a saw plate and then you clamp it shut with a sprung cam. Has a lot more in common with a luthier clamp than it does with a screw vice. 

Not a lot other than that little bit done today. Today was too sunny and it was a weekend so we took the little BBQ on a field trip to Powerscourt waterfall…

Not allowed chop ’em down and make furniture from them though, oh well 😀